In my free time, I'm translating a book to Esperanto as a way of learning. Of the character names, some of them have 'x' in their names. I thought I would keep them, since I'm using diphongs, so Lux should stay the same, as it can't be mistaken with Lŭ. However, in the Esperanto Wikipedia, both Linux and Unix are rebranded as Linukso and Unikso (and Debiano...). I'm inclined of using the original name with original characters like áűúő, since they never intersect with the Esperanto diacritics. Is there a directive on translating names?

As I'm checking the Wikipedia, I find more and more places where names are translated (Aristotelo, Oktoberfesto), while some remain untranslated (Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman). Even in city names, Budapeŝto is translated, but Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged are not.

2 Answers 2


Is there a directive on translating names?

Yes. This is what the Akademio has to say about names:


Everyone can choose how they use proper names. They can be fully translated, partly translated or kept unchanged.

In general widely known and classic names are more likely to be fully translated (e.g. Aristotelo, Budapeŝto), while lesser known and more modern names are more likely to be used in its original language (e.g. Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged). This comes from practical needs. If you need to find a small town in a map, the Esperanto name is likely to be useless. On the other hand, big city names come up often enough that it would be confusing if you had to switch mid-sentence between Esperanto, English and Hungarian just to tell your friend “Mi vojaĝis de Nov-Jorko al Budapeŝto”.

Notice that there's nothing wrong in keeping a name partly translated to Esperanto. Zamenhof's own name is not completely translated because it doesn't end with an O.

So choose wisely: Do you want to keep the names true to their origins and recognizable? Do you want them to be easy to pronounce and blend with the rest of the story? Or would you want the names to look cool with lots of exotic diacritics? If you can't have everything at the same time maybe adding a couple of footnotes will help...


Personally I don't much like the idea of translating names, but it is indeed done a lot. I tend to leave many names untranslated where others might translate them, notably names for social media such as Facebook and Twitter and the like. I would probably be inclined to do the same for people's names in books. Lux in particular I think shouldn't give a problem so long as you didn't use the X system in the rest of the book (which you probably would not want to do anyway).

I'm not fully sure about any absolute 'directives', but I do know that it's done frequently, but not always—pretty much your own observation, as you described already.

If you were to translate it though, I guess it would be Lukso?

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